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Deregulating the cruise ships
Michael Reagan

It almost seems like the CDC wants to sink cruise ships.

Since the start of its war against COVID-19 the CDC – everyone’s favorite public health care bureaucracy – has been torpedoing the cruise ship industry with unnecessarily strict regulations that are only making it harder for the industry to survive the pandemic and its lockdowns.

As recently as Dec. 31 the CDC issued a statement warning all travelers – including vaccinated ones with boosters – to avoid cruise ships, which are really gigantic floating hotels with casinos.

The warning, which was triggered because the total number of COVID cases on the 92 ships that the CDC monitors had spiked to a high level in early December, was a warning we’ve heard many times before:

“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.”

After the CDC targeted the cruise ship industry, the media piled on by spooking the public with headlines about ships not being allowed to sail or having to return to port because of COVID outbreaks among passengers or crews.

Despite two years of scary publicity that kept many travelers on land and crushed the industry’s revenues, these days a cruise ship is actually one of the safest places on the planet.

Passengers and crews are 100 percent vaccinated. Masks are mandatory in public spaces except when eating or drinking.

Ships are not booked to full capacity. And there is a hospital with doctors and nurses on board.

As I’ve mentioned before, my wife is a travel agent who books people on cruises and I often tag along.

Last October when I joined her as she led a small group of brave seafarers around the Mediterranean, we couldn’t have been safer.

Though all 600 of us had to be vaccinated, we still had to be tested before we got on the ship in Athens and before and after we visited most ports.

On our boat the one and only person who tested positive for COVID was asymptomatic but was quickly quarantined.

The strict “COVID-19 risk mitigation program” that the CDC imposed on the cruise ship industry is not enforced anywhere else.

Not on airplanes. Not in hotels. Not in supermarkets. Not at Alabama-Georgia football games in front of 100,000 screaming and maskless college kids.

If the CDC did impose its cruise ship standards on hotels, no one would go to a hotel. No one would ride airplanes, trains and buses, either.

Today, with omicron racing across the country and infecting millions of the vaxxed and un-vaxxed alike, it looks like everyone on land and sea will soon get the highly contagious but virtually harmless variant – or has it already.

I guarantee that if you tested everyone who checks into a hotel or boards an airplane tonight anywhere in the world, someone will have COVID.

Ditto if you tested everyone for COVID in your neighborhood supermarket, or at an NBA game, or in a hospital emergency room.

It’s been clear for two years that the CDC’s tough COVID regulations were unfairly harming the cruise ship industry, its employees and stockholders – and that they should have been thrown overboard long ago.

But the harm is even more obvious now that we know COVID vaccines and boosters don’t protect you from catching omicron or prevent you from spreading it.

Amazingly, however, the CDC’s bureaucrats have suddenly come to their senses.

The CDC announced Wednesday that what it has been calling its “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order” will expire this weekend and from now on its COVID “guidance” for cruise ships will become voluntary. It’s up to the cruise lines to decide how to “COVID-proof” their ships.

You could say that this happy decision is a sign that after two years the CDC is finally getting its ship together.

Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan, is an author, speaker and president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation. Send comments to and follow @reaganworld on Twitter.